Hiking is an awesome family activity, especially here in Metro Vancouver. Beyond a good pair of shoes, there isn’t much equipment involved. Plus, there’s no shortage of awesome trails, parks, and paths around town. Exploring nature is great for kids and adults alike, and hiking with kids in tow is a ton of fun, as long as you do a little prep work before you go.
We like to create a game to play while hiking, like a scavenger hunt — mark off different animals, plants, or things you see while on your hike. Be sure to bring snacks and water along or even a picnic if you can handle carrying the weight of the food. And most importantly — start small! Start your kiddos off with a short hike, 20 – 30 minutes long, nothing too steep or technically difficult. Then build on that, taking a longer trail and heading up steeper slopes. We also love to hike places where there’s a reward at the end — an awesome playground, amazing views, or even a tasty ice cream cone!
Not sure where to head for your first hike? Here are 5 awesome places to hike with kids in Metro Vancouver.
Shoreline Trail meanders along the shores of the Port Moody Inlet from Old Orchard Park all the way to Rocky Point Park. For little legs, we like to start at the Port Moody Rec Centre and head over to Rocky Point Park for an awesome playground and delicious ice cream. It’s less than 2 km from the rec centre to the pier, perfect for new hikers. The trail takes you through the forest and along boardwalks over the marshy tidal flats. Stick to the gravel trail as the paved path is often full of cyclists. Public washrooms are located at Rocky Point Park. Visit portmoody.ca for more information.
With 73 km of trails, Pacific Spirit Regional Park has the perfect path for you and your family. There’s a wide variety of plant life to see, plus salmon-bearing streams, cliffs, and great ocean views. Head to Comosun Bog where you can learn all about this important ecosystem through a self-guided interpretation walk along a 300m boardwalk. You can access the bog from 19th Avenue & Comosun Street, near Queen Elizabeth School. Note — there are a number trails at Pacific Spirit Park that are off-leash dog trails, so if your kids (or you) are dog adverse, best to stay away from them. Visit metrovancouver.org for more information.
Lynn Canyon Park offers a range of hikes for kids of all ages and is home to a free-to-cross suspension bridge that sits 50 metres above the canyon. For a 1 km hike, cross the suspension bridge and turn left to head toward 30 Foot Pool — a swimming hole popular with tourists and locals during hot summer days. After visiting the pool, head up the stairs and turn right to get on the loop trail that takes you back to the suspension bridge. There are washrooms at the Lynn Canyon Café, located right near the suspension bridge. Visit lynncanyon.ca for more information.
Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver is a great place to hike with kids, especially kids who love boats and the ocean, since you’ll be treated to some spectacular views of the Burrard Inlet and Howe Sound. If you’ve got young kids or kids who haven’t done a lot of hiking, simply head straight for the lighthouse — it’s about a 10-minute walk along a wide, paved path. Or you can choose other paths and trails that loop around and through the park to various viewpoints and vistas. There are washrooms along the Beacon Lane Trail (the direct path to the lighthouse) as well as a few other spots in the park. Visit westvancouver.ca for more information.
Malcolm Knapp is a UBC Research Forest located at 14500 Silver Valley Road in Maple Ridge. There are four well-marked trails of increasing length to take you and your family throughout the forest to various lookout points. Keep to the Red Trail for a nice 1.4 km loop, which should take about an hour. Leave your bikes and dogs at home as they are not allowed on the trails. Washrooms are located at the main gate. Visit mkrf.forestry.ubc.ca for more details.